This Week's first session featured a young Father Keating explaining two different models that explain people's views of God, the Western model and the Scriptural model.
Individuals who perceive within the Western Model see God-as- outside-of-self and the self-outside-of-God and external acts are more important than are interior acts. Here is more aspects of the Western model of Spirituality:
1. The self-initiates all good and God rewards us. 2. Reward is in heaven rather than love of self and neighbor here and now. This was manifested by external works. 3. Getting guarantees of future rewards rather than receiving love of God in this life and serving others in need
The Scriptural model is almost 180 degrees from the Western model. Characteristics of the Scriptural model follow:
1. Internal actions more important 2. Self in God and the Spirit of God within us. Emphasis is on listening and responding to the Spirit 3. Emphasis is on effort and the journey to unite ourselves and to love God here right now. 4. God is in us through trust and faith and love. This cultivates love of God here and now and not in the future. This model is not interested in the future.
Father Keating believes the Western Model is an immature model of spirituality. He sees this model as seeing God as Judge and being afraid of God. He prefers people understand that the "fear of the Lord" actually implies great Trust in the Lord. He notes that the "Fear of God=Have a right relationship with God and that is Trust and Responsibility. This grows in the service of God" and one feels more united with God and desires to serve others.
Father Keating wants us to "Trust in God and don’t be anxious about the future. " Centering Prayer helps us to trust in God as we "Rest in God."
The Second Session of the Week focused on the traits of the Spiritual Journey. As we work through our journey we are always wondering Who is God? Life is a mystery to us, but our brain gives us the capacity to have a relationship with God.
Keating notes, “That brings me to just point out, that in the spiritual journey, there is a time for different spiritual experiences. It follows a certain order; it’s not entirely chaotic, although we may experience certain parts of it as that way.”
Often, there is a community, exoteric worship that occurs. Then devotion to saints, then angels and then a brotherly attitude toward Christ. A sibling relationship. Then move to a spiritual marriage and more like an intimate relationship. Then the Trinity, closeness to each of the aspects of the Trinity.
This is a love that is being given all of the time. A divine river that flows between the three aspects of the Trinity. One enters into the flow of divine life. One’s life needs to be flexible to change.
Keating relates that we eventually become aware “So, mysterium tremendum is a factor, you might say, in the process of surrender—surrender to a mystery that is not understandable to us—but seems to be calling us or determined to share with us the beauty, goodness, freedom, compassion, forgiveness of God as something totally gratuitous.”
This requires us to have a 180 degree shift in how we relate to God.
“Traditionally meditation in its conceptual form, which we call contemplation, mostly in the Christian tradition, is perhaps the easiest way to access the spiritual level of our being or the Ground of Being out of which we came.” This is the divine energy of creation. Everything is carefully balanced. As we live we go through this process and it happens to us; we don’t do it, but it happens to us.
Resources: You may wish to read Chapter 2, "Attitudes Towards God" from Intimacy with God by Thomas Keating.
I loved this week's offerings because it helped me identify where I am on the spiritual journey. I have experienced many of the aspects that Father Keating talked about and so enjoyed realizing I am one of many on the same path. -Anne